At United Stationer’s Vision 2006 conference in Las Vegas, the wholesaler announced that it has jointly created the SAP-hosted solution for business products resellers, confirming the speculation exclusively revealed by OPI on 2 November.
The idea behind the software, delegates heard, is "to empower independent dealers to compete more effectively in an environment in which technology has dramatically changed consumer buying habits".
With 80 per cent of United’s sales coming from the independent dealer community, keeping dealers happy is a win-win situation for both parties. The company’s CEO Dick Gochnauer said that technology is now critical for the future success of the dealers and also the success of United, which is the reason the wholesaler is getting involved in systems again.
But Gochnauer is keen to point out that this is not United’s system, so the wholesaler will not lock in dealers. Those that buy from any US wholesaler will also be able to use the system, he maintains.
In a separate development, United reported a slip in Q3 profit due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina, higher fuel prices and IT costs. Net income fell to $26.1 million from $26.3 million the year before. Sales were up 13 per cent to $1.2 billion, compared to $1 billion a year ago.
(see ‘Powerful friends’, pg 33)